Iraqi Court Orders Married Christian Mother and Children to Convert to Islam

Farrukh Saif

June 11, 2024

Christian-woman-Elvin-Jospeh

Christians in the Middle East are persecuted not only by Islamic extremist groups but also by their governments. A disturbing incident of persecution occurred when an Iraqi court caused outrage by ordering Evlin Joseph, a Christian Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian woman, a mother of three from Duhok, to convert to Islam along with her children. The ruling was based on Joseph’s mother converting to Islam when Joseph was 15 years old.

Court Cites Personal Status Law:

The court cited Iraq’s Personal Status Law, which states that if a parent converts to Islam, any children younger than 18 should also convert to Islam. Despite Joseph being an adult and married to a Christian man, the court ruled that her mother’s conversion decades ago still applies.

Joseph expressed shock at the ruling, stating, “I am Christian. I am married to a Christian man. I have never converted to Islam, nor do I intend to.”

Violation of Religious Freedom:

Human rights advocates have condemned the court’s decision as a blatant violation of religious freedom and personal autonomy. They argue that Joseph’s religious affiliation should be a personal choice, not dictated by a law based on her mother’s decision from years ago.

The ruling has raised concerns about the erosion of religious rights for minorities in Iraq, particularly for Christians who have faced persecution and displacement in recent years.

Legal experts and religious leaders have called for an urgent reform of Iraq’s Personal Status Law, which they argue is outdated and infringes on fundamental human rights. They demand that the law be amended to respect an individual’s right to choose and practice their religion freely, regardless of their parent’s beliefs.

The case has garnered international attention, with human rights organizations urging the Iraqi government to intervene and uphold the principles of religious freedom enshrined in the country’s constitution

Farrukh Saif

Farrukh H. Saif, a courageous Christian human rights activist, established the Farrukh Saif Foundation in 2009 to confront religious discrimination, blasphemy laws, and bonded slavery in Pakistan. His dedication to liberating bonded laborers from brick kilns and advocating for blasphemy victims and asylum seekers has garnered international acclaim. Despite encountering threats and fatwas, his impactful work persists in supporting marginalized communities. In 2018, the foundation merged with The Emergency Committee to Save the Persecuted and Enslaved, enhancing its global outreach.

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